News & Politics

It’s Been Nearly a Week Since the Insurrection. Why Haven’t We Seen Top Federal Law Enforcement Officials?

As the city braces for potential inauguration related violence, the silence is disturbing.

Photograph by Evy Mages

In the days after pro-Trump rioters carried out their deadly insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol, we continue to learn alarming new details about the attack. Equally disturbing, though, has been the silence of our nation’s top law enforcement authorities.

It’s been nearly a week since the attack, and still none of the figures you’d expect see in front of the cameras—the Attorney General, the FBI director, the Secretary of Homeland Security—have briefed the media on the events that took place at the Capitol. (The Homeland Security Department’s acting secretary, Chad Wolf, resigned yesterday, and the current FEMA director will assume the role.)

Contrast this with the typical aftermath of a disaster—feds briefing reporters in their windbreakers, theretofore obscure agency chiefs becoming ubiquitous cable-news figures, a glut of information on what citizens should do to protect themselves. At DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s press conference yesterday, reporters were reduced to asking her questions about the national guard, which is not under her control. At least she was a senior figure communicating with the public.

The feds’ absence is all the more disturbing given that, according to the AP, the FBI has warned in an internal bulletin of armed protests being planned in DC and in all 50 state capitals on and around inauguration day.

CNN reported Monday that two Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee, Veronica Escobar and Joe Neguse, have urged the law enforcement agencies to brief the public and members of Congress about the riots. “It has been five days since the most significant attack on a branch of the United States government since British forces set fire to the U.S. Capitol in 1814,” the lawmakers said in a letter Monday, “and yet the American public has not heard from federal law enforcement authorities.”

And still, nothing.

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Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.